Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Laundry Roses

My derioulsy beloved Toño is a man of many talents, among which is his faculty of letting me discover that there is a (kind of) romantic in me. Not that I'm now writing poems. I have no idea what forces are required to let me develop those sacred skills. It's just that I can't look at these roses without getting goose bumps and thinking of Toño.

I've got those roses with my laundry. The hotels of the Taj group put a rose onto every basket with the washed, ironed and nicely packed undies and shirts. Yesterday, I was in my room when a couples of baskets were delivered. I took the roses, put them into a water glass and got myself a medium to be with Toño. Then I know, that there are certainly some flowers in our resident as well as at Toño's office.

Since I'm not a poet at all, I have to resort to Pablo Neruda, a master of this art, who wrote the “The Herbalist’s. Rose,” devoted to flowers, branches, and vegetal growth:

La rosa del herbolario

Dejo en la nave de la rosa
la desición del herbolario:
si la estima por su virtud
o por la herida del aroma:
si es intacta como la quiere
o rígida como una muerta.

La breve nave no dirá
cuál es la muerte que prefiere:
si con la proa enarbolada
frente a su fuego victorioso
ardiendo con todas las velas
de la hermosura abrasadora
o secándose en un sistema
de pulcritud medicinal.

El herbolario soy, señores,
y me turban tales protestas
porque en mí mismo no convengo
a decidir mi idolatría:
la vestidura del rosal
quema el amor en su bandera
y el tiempo azota el esqueleto
derribando el aroma rojo
y la turgencia perfumada:
después con una sacudida
y una larga copa de lluvia
no queda nada de la flor.

Por eso agonizo y padezco
preservando el amor furioso
hasta en sus últimas cenizas.

The herbalist's rose

I consign to the ship of the rose
an herbalist's decision:
whether to honour the rose for its strenght,
or the wound of its odor:
whether all is intact, as he likes it,
or stiff as a corpse.

The terse ship will not say
which death it prefers:
the prow thrusting itself
through victorious fire
crowding its sails and ablaze
in its clustering beauty,
or wilting away under its regimen
of medicinal comeliness.

I am that herbalist: friends,
flinching from every complaint
because I can never agree
how to resolve my idolatry:
the rose's investiture
burns love on its banners,
time flays from its skeleton
the juice of a scarlet aroma,
the perfume's tumidity:
then, with one blow of the weather,
a great cupful of rain,
nothing is left of the flower.

Here I am moping and mowing
to preserve the full fury of love
till the last ash flickers out.

Penn on the 'Issue'

Josh: What effect do you think this film [Milk] may have on audiences, especially audiences grappling with their own feelings on gay rights issues?

Sean Penn: Even the word “issue” about this—it’s only an issue because of ignorance in the first place. If we could criminalize—we don’t have an excuse of being ignorant of the law, so if we could have no excuse of being ignorant of human history, then any support of Proposition 8 would be, minimally, manslaughter, because history tells us there will be teenage boys who will hang themselves out of a reach for an identity they can’t get. As long as it’s an issue it’s an obscenity, and if this movie is part of an engine to help reveal that, that’s going to make all of us really happy and proud. I also think it’s important to remember that the tension is not between the gay and faith communities, but between the gay community and a pseudo-faith community which has nothing to do with god, love, or anything of real faith. It’s really just hypocrisy and hatred. So any faith community that deserves the title of “faith community” really won’t have a problem with these issues.

Read the interview.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


My life is rather dull right now. I'm again on one of those business trips at and off Mumbai in India. Actually this is were I spent the last six days between 7:30am till 11:00pm:

Yes, I'm pretentious and only travel with two laptops. The picture is not quite accurate, since normally two dozen Indians were also present. The rest of the time I was either eating rice with something in the wardroom, was lying in my berth or was sipping tea with cardamom and milk. I actually spent 120 hours in the ship without breathing fresh air once.

However, a poxy gun broke, and we had to suspend the trials. Now my workplace looks like this:

I haven no idea how long this will last. I have got a return ticket for March 1. And since I've checked my mailbox, I know that there is another ticket to Rome on March 2. Some here think I should stay until March 7, although the Taj will kick me out on March 1 since they promised my room somebody else. And all I really want is a little hug by Toño. But nobody cares of putting this into my plans.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How did i get here?

I will spent the next six days at sea on a 26 year old pest-infected vessel. Water too clean my precious alabaster body will be heavily rationed (don't even dream of a shower). And, I will be fighting with rats and cockroaches for access to my keyboard. However, if are luckier than we deserve, the customer will accept the system and we can bugger off.

And you may ask yourself - did I get here?

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was..

Monday, February 16, 2009


I came across this song this morning. It still gave me goose bumps and made me longing for Toño even more.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I cycle or I get driven. I hardly ever drive a car myself. Nevertheless, I loath using taxis, even more since yesterday.

I arrived late yesterday afternoon at the domestic terminal in Mumbai. At the international terminal you can hire a pre-paid taxi. I like this. You pay a little more than when driven on a meter, however, you know what you pay and what you're likely to get upfront. This is fine with me.

At the domestic terminal there is no such service. I was on my way to the taxicabs, when I was approached by a fellow informing me that the prepaid taxis are at the other end. Although a dozen alarm bells were ringing within the next five minutes, I somehow ended in a mouldy smelling car with two fellows, still not knowing how much this trip was gonna cost.

One of them showed me a tariff card, indicating that it would cost 2100 rupee (about 50$). A pre-paid taxi at the international airport cost between 850 and 1000 rupees. For 2500 rupees you get a leather upholstered sedan with a driver dressed in livery. I knew, I made a big mistake getting in this car, but matters wend from bad to worse pretty quickly.

I handed over 4x500 + 1x100 rupee banknote. The bloke claimed to have received only 1x500 + 4x100. I was immediately reminded to a story a colleague told only a day ago from the same airport about a banknote trick being played on him in a cab. But stupid as I am, I took back the money and handed him again 4x500 + 1x100. This time he claimed to have received 3x500 + 2x100. I grabbed my money and yelled Stop that car! I took me some more shouting to get my luggage out of the trunk. The hideous bloke even claimed that I'm offending his honour. I could not have disagree more, since he had 1600 of my rupees.

It was only a few hundred meters back to the airport, where I grabbed a black and yellow (kaali-peeli) which cost me 515 rupees. This was ridiculously overpriced, but it's what I should have done in the first place...

However, I'm back at the Taj Mahal hotel and it went upwards ever since (although I was given en a room without DVD player). The positive news are:
  1. Word came through, that the management buy out by Toño's boss went through (letter of intent state). So Toño economical future looks brighter than it has been for a while. If you haven't yet, you should subscribe to Vinum magazine right now. You will not only be helping Toño but might learn a lot about wine and its culture in the process.
  2. A hotel butler just knocked on my door and brought me a complimentary dessert.

My Kingfisher Experience

This Saturday I had my first Kingfisher Airlines experience. I did not know what to expect, nevertheless I had had some expectation since Kingfisher promises the journey of a lifetime.

This was a bad start for Kingfisher. The bartender had an attitude I did not like, the AC was either off or on blizzard mode, and you had to make a kowtow in front of the receptionist to get any information on the two hour delay of the flight.

You can let porters carry your carry-on. This increases the queue at security and causes some shoving in the aisle, because the porters have to leave somehow after they dragged the bags into the overhead compartments.

The Seat
Unlike in Europe, you actually get a business class size seat. It's not the latest model, but you get sufficient room. The interior design (and crew uniforms) have a light sixties touch - the time when flying was still something exiting.

There are some nice thrills like your jacket gets ironed and your spectacles get a nice polish.

The appetizers were amazing: An asparagus and broccoli soup with Parmesan croute, and almond crusted Camembert with fig and Port reduction. There were four main courses to choose from, two non-veg and two vegetarian. I went for an Asian style steamed halibut, which left no room fro dessert.

Entertainment System
The flight was only close to 2 hours with all the fine dining and a well written book at hand, there was no time to check.

Bottom line
You are really well taken care of as soon as you are on the plane. That's about it. The real experience of the day came after the flight. More on that in the next post.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Cardio?

Do you plan a cardio today? Put Kylie Minogue's LA Riots remix of her song "Boombox" on the palylist.

I will not do a cardio (slept in), but will fly Kingfisher in a few hours. I haven't been so full of curiosity before a flight in ages.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


My caring employer handed out brand spanking new water bottles* to each employee to encurage us to drink more water and less coffee.

I assume the bottle was designed to use the nipple on the top to drink from it. Which you can't because:
  • A) the nipple smells like a tire
  • B) the bottle is (unlike a normal sport drinking bottle) made of rigid material which can't be squeezed (or only once after weeks at the gym). If you try to suck it, you might choke to death.
It just does not suck around here.

* with a sticker listing the compulsory company values (which was torn off by somebody rather quickly)

Getting Ready

Tomorrow, I will embark again to India. But today, since there were no Bürli left at the canteen (the Bürli is the only reason why I eat there), I went out to grab a sandwich. And guess, my hand grabbed a Tandoori Chicken Sandwich (and a Traktor smoothie).

This trip to India will have two premiers:

I will be in New Delhi for the first time. This means, that I will have to travel with both white collar outfit (meeting in New Delhi) and blue collar outfit (sailing off Mumbai).

I will fly Kingfisher for the first time. The eyes of all Indians start to shine as soon as you mention that you will fly Kingfisher. They are not allowed to serve any Kingfisher beer in the air, so there must something else about this airline. I'll tell you as soon as I'll know.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Bad Boy

Procrastination is such a bad thing. I new it was gonna be bad, since I haven't actually checked my inbox for about a momth. But more than 1000 unread mails is a bit too much...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Charlotte Russe

For a change I did not make a Charlotte Royal but her sister Charlotte Russe. This dessert had been invented by the French chef Marie Antoine Carême (1784-1833), who named it in honour of his Russian employer Czar Alexander I (Russe is French for Russian).

The fists stage of this dessert requires more the qualities of a mason than of a pastry cook. You have to arrange ladyfingers seamlessly in a mould, which involves a lot of accurate rasping.

I dared to divide slightly from the original recipe by using raspberry jam rolls for both top and bottom.

The filling is like in the Charlotte royal a Bavarian cream...

... however, for the Charlotte Royal one is supposed to use cherry brandy (Kirsch), for the Charlotte Russe Maraschino (Marasca cherry cordial) is used. Of course, we have both on stock - the Kirsch though is home-distilled by my clan.

The Charlotte Russe can't deny its Russian heritage. It clearly resembles both an Ushanka and a Papakhi.

Toppled Cheesecake

You can not always win. Thus I hastily invented a new dish: Toppled Cheesecake.

It will be served with cherries cooked in tawny port, which might cover some of the mess.

Added Later
It might look a bit strange, nevertheless it was well received. Only a tiny piece is left

Friday, February 06, 2009

Comfort Spaghetti

This week I felt like a hamster in its wheel. Before I dragged my sorry ass home, I'd asked Toño to prepare me my favourite comfort food: Spaghetti with chicken and peas in cream sauce. It's simple, it's fast, it's yummy and it contains all of my favourite ingredients. Well, that's exactly how I created the recipe some years back: Put everything you I like in one plate.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I *heart* Шпроты

My brother has a young Udmurtian farm help from Ижевск in the Western Urals. She went home to celebrate Новый Год (New Year) with her parents. For that, she wanted to bring them a cuckoo clock from Switzerland. Since I'm always cruising around the world, Toño went to buy one for her.

Toño has a distinguished taste and so he did not buy just any cuckoo clock, but The Cuckoo Clock (hand made, Swiss made, precise, beautiful, you name it). Of course, this was beyond the budget of a farm help being exploited by a Swiss farmer.

Well, we are no brutes and gave the clock to her as a present. Татьяна offered to bring something from Russia in return. Bring us some cans of Шпроты (sprats), I demanded.

Tatiana is a smart girl and got the hint. She brought some cans of sprats and the only thing that goes along with them - right, Vodka.

It's not any vodka but Kalashnikov Vodka (Caliber 500 ml x 40°), since Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47, lives in Ижевск.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Matthew Mitcham On The Advocate

Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham - my personal Best Poster Boy 2008 - made it on the March issue cover of The Advocate (read the story).

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Call Me By Your Name

I'm always a bit reluctant, when a book is hyped a bit too much. Nevertheless, after both Josh & Josh had gave it a clear thumbs up, I caved in and got myself a copy of of Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman.

Call Me By Your Name

It has been a while since the pages of a book rushed through my fingers that fast. Reading this book was like diving into the ocean at the dawn of a hot summer day. It's ravenous. It's about love. It's emotional. I haven't been daydreaming about the protagonists of a book since I read At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill.

Josh & Josh claim that it will be even better the second time. I can't wait to jump into it again.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Premier With 77

Today, we could celebrate the 77th birthday of my mother. I made her a Charlotte Royal for the occasion. It was well received, however, my father pushed me out of the limelight. He gave her flowers. Like for the first time ever.